2021 Executive Budget includes a 0% tax increase and zero layoffs despite financial impact from the pandemic
County Executive Ryan calls for new “People-Centered Economy” envisioning a better and stronger Ulster County focusing on key economic sectors
County Executive Ryan announces expansion of Mobile Mental Health placing a full-time social worker into County 911 Emergency Management Department
KINGSTON, N.Y. – County Executive Ryan unveiled his 2021 Executive Budget today in a speech delivered at the SUNY Ulster campus. At approximately $333.8 million, the 2021 budget includes a 0% increase in the tax levy and no layoffs to county employees. Ryan highlighted a series of initiatives focused on ensuring Ulster County emerges from the challenges of the COVID pandemic stronger and more equitable, including a comprehensive set of economic investments, major infrastructure improvements, and critical social services.
“After one of the most difficult years in decades, I am proud to deliver a county budget that will once again hold the line on taxes, while also proposing no layoffs and maintaining – and in many cases improving – delivery of vital services across the board,” County Executive Ryan said. “This budget puts people at the center of our economy and at the heart of our essential spending, outlining a plan to ensure we emerge from the pandemic with a more resilient and equitable economy and with a continued focus on taking care of each other during this moment of great need.”
Despite the financial challenges brought on by the pandemic, the county was able to hold the line on taxes due to strong fiscal management in response to the crisis. Once again, Ulster County received a strong credit rating of AA in the most recent ratings by S&P Global, issued in August. Ulster County has also again been designated as “fiscally sound” by the NYS Comptroller, and Ryan’s Executive Budget maintains a fund balance above recommended levels to ensure the county maintains financial flexibility going forward.
2021 Budget Initiatives
Building A People-Centered Economy
This week, County Executive Pat Ryan released Ulster 2040, an action plan for creating a sustainable and “People-Centered Economy.” The report outlines a bold, long-term vision for what our economy (and by extension our community) should and could look like in twenty years and it outlines specific recommendations and short, medium and long-term investments in four focused sectors to achieve that vision.
Reimagining the Hudson Valley Mall
In 2021, work will begin to transform the Hudson Valley Mall into a thriving hub of our future agricultural economy. Partnering with the Hull Group, Farm Bridge, Novo Foundation, NY State Empire Development and others, work will start to transform this property into an agribusiness hub that will form the centerpiece of the county’s future agribusiness economy.
Grow and Diversify our Economy for All
The 2021 Ulster County Executive Budget proposes to spend approximately $5.3 million in the operating budget and capital program to support economic development in the county.
The Ulster County Office of Economic Development’s budget includes $768,768.00 in proposed funding in the 2021 Ulster County Executive Budget. Additionally, the Ulster County Tourism Department includes $1,007,099.00 in proposed funding.
Ulster County Enterprise West (Formerly Tech City)
Approximately $225,000 is included in the operating budget to ensure the upkeep of Ulster County Enterprise West, formerly known as Tech City. Additionally, to rebirth the former IBM site, taking long-vacant buildings and putting them back to work as a hub for artists, designers, manufacturers, and creatives. The capital budget includes $2.9 million over several years to fund this transformation.
Green Careers Academy
As a part of the 2021 Executive Budget, up to will be used $75,000 to expand the Green Careers Academy for green career training and new internship programs. The Office of Employment and Training (OET) will be partnering with Ulster BOCES and SUNY Ulster to create green training opportunities for Ulster BOCES students. Through OET’s Green Careers internship program, graduating students will also be eligible for further Green Careers Academy courses and paid on-the-job training experience.
100% Renewable Energy by 2030
Through investments made in the 2021 Budget, Ulster County will be halfway towards its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030. As part of a five-year $2.5 million dollar capital plan, Ulster County will invest over $800,000 in 2021 to update decades old HVAC systems at the Ulster County Courthouse, the Ulster County Government Building, Ulster County Hall of Records and the Trudy Resnick Building in Ellenville. Over the next five-years, the county will look to upgrade systems in 14 buildings. The project will reduce heating and cooling energy use by up to 20%, resulting in significant operational cost savings, and replace older refrigerants, which are powerful greenhouse gases, in HVAC equipment.
In addition, Ulster County recently executed an agreement with the NY Power Authority for UCAT electric bus charging infrastructure. This project which utilizes VW settlement funding, upgrades the electrical service of the UCAT facility at 1 Danny Circle, Kingston will commence along with the installation of three 150KW DC fast chargers in the bus garage. It is anticipated that work will be completed by the end of 2021.
Through an agreement on the future site of Ulster County’s second solar array located in the town of Saugerties, Ulster County will develop a community distributed generation project which will provide power for both Ulster County Government operations and local community solar subscribers. Ulster County will also subscribe to receive community solar credits from multiple sites within Central Hudson’s service territory, including the ELP Myer solar project located on Warren Myer road in Saugerties. Both projects will lead to an anticipated annual cost savings of $60,000.
Investments in Community Care
Mobile Mental Health Expansion
For the first time, Ulster County will invest $150,000 to place a full-time social worker into the Emergency Management Department. Residents who call 911 and are experiencing a mental health crisis, will be able to be met with the response of a social worker opposed to law enforcement. This will ensure a trauma informed care response instead of incarceration.
In the 2021 Executive Budget, $13.7 million will be allocated for Mental Health a total of $871,664 will go to Mobile Mental Health.
Launched last year, Brighter Futures focuses and personalizes support for adolescents, and their families, to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. In the 2021 Executive Budget, the program will be doubled from 20 participants to 40. Brighter Futures will undoubtedly change the life trajectory for many young people in our community.
Golden Hill Housing
In the 2021 Executive Budget, Ulster County will continue to press forward in bringing workforce housing to Ulster County. In partnership with the Ulster County Legislature and the newly formed joint Housing Advisory Committee, plans will be finalized to convert the old jail at Golden Hill into a major workforce housing project. County Executive Ryan stressed that this type of housing will be accessible to frontline workers who’ve risked their lives during the pandemic and deserve a place for them and their family to live in dignity. In addition, work will continue to identify more sites across the county for future workforce housing projects.
Tackling the Opioid Epidemic
As part of the 2021 Executive Budget, $670,000 will be dedicated to opioid use prevention. Through the budget, residents will have the opportunity to obtain housing vouchers at local hotels for those in need of safe housing while seeking treatment. Additionally, vouchers for childcare to assist those in obtaining treatment and attending critical appointments will be made available. Further, funds will be made available to offset transportation costs for residents getting help and providing access to technology for telemedicine needs.
Funding will also be used to expand Ulster County’s High Risk Mitigation Team to the City of Kingston and strengthen its reach into other parts of Ulster County. Through this new effort, Ellenville Regional Hospital will fund two Care Managers to serve communities outside the City of Kingston and the Ulster County Health Department will fund one Care Manager to focus on Kingston along with assisting the program in reviewing all county overdoses and connecting the many treatment facilities.
The High Risk Mitigation Team will take a population health approach and work closely with those struggling with addiction to ensure they receive comprehensive, personalized support and services. The team will carefully follow their treatment so they don’t slip through the cracks in existing systems. Services will include: linking to peer services, treatment, harm reduction measures, medication assisted treatment, OUD prevention education, and recovery services.
In the 2021 Executive Capital Budget, $48.5 million will be dedicated to enhancing roads and bridges. This includes, among many other key projects, $4.4 million to rebuild the Shawangunk Kill Bridge in Shawangunk, nearly $3 million to upgrade the Maltby Hollow Bridge in the town of Olive, over $2 million on the Sundown Bridge in the town of Denning, and $10 million on overall road paving across the county throughout 2021.
Education and Community Care
In the 2021 Executive Budget, $16.2 million dollars will be invested in education, including $12.3 million in continued support to SUNY Ulster’s academic programs and facility upgrades. Further, $36.7 million has been allocated for Medicaid, $36.6 million on childcare and early intervention programs and $13.7 million for Mental Health.
Full Executive Budget Available Friday
The 2021 Executive Budget will be posted on the Ulster County Website on Friday, October 2nd. For more information, please visit: https://ulstercountyny.gov/budget.